It’s that time of year again. Christmas is over and in the US, we’ve entered the cold, dark January days in the thick of winter. I crave sunlight. I can feel the winter blues or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) creeping in. Today I pulled out the Vitamin D3. It gets tucked behind a few other things in the medicine cabinet in the summer. I’ve found that D3 helps me not feel the winter blues so intensely. I’ve put together a list of ideas that I’ve found help greatly with the dark cold days of winter. Hang in there, spring will come again soon!
1. As mentioned above, I take Vitamin D3 daily. The recommended dose varies from about 2,000-5,000 IUs per day, depending on how far north you live and how severe the SAD. I get it at Walmart, but most grocery stores and pharmacies should have it. You might want to check with your doctor to see if this is ok for you and what the most appropriate dose is for you. I like the way Vitamin D3’s benefits are explained in this article http://www.heathernicholds.com/nutrition/sad-vitamin-d.
2. Try to get outside for fresh air every day if possible. On mild temperature days, go for a short walk around the block. If it’s too cold for a walk, I try to run an errand so I’m at least getting out of the house and breathing in some fresh air when I’m getting in and out of the car.
4. Stay warm. If I’m cold, I’m even more miserable emotionally and mentally. I have a portable indoor heater that I turn on when I’m in my living room. I love feeling the warm air. I also dress in layers and make sure my feet are comfy in slippers.
5. Use a full spectrum light box. It is recommended that you sit in front of it for 30-60 minutes per day. I have seen them on Amazon.com (affiliate link) and at Costco occasionally. They even have wake up alarm clock lights (affiliate link) that help simulate sunrise so you aren’t waking up in the dark.
6. Try not to hibernate the months away. Instead, go on weekly dates with your spouse or plan fun activities to do with friends. Meet up for dinner, go to a movie, bowling, skiing, ice skating, browse a bookstore, anything you love to do.
7. Buy some fresh flowers or a potted plant. Taking care of and enjoying the beauty of living plants and flowers uplifts my spirits and helps me look forward to the beauty of spring. They are a great way to push aside those winter blues. Flowers are known to reduce anxiety and help healing. I love this article “The Mental Health Benefits of Flowers“.
8. Enjoy hot chocolate while reading a good book or surfing the web. At least hot chocolate is one good thing to enjoy in the winter! Get a variety of fun flavors like mint chocolate, dark chocolate, candy cane, and chocolate with marshmallows. Snuggle up in a blanket by the fire place and you’ve got a nice relaxing winter afternoon pick-me up.
9. Dream about what you want to do for spring break or summer vacation and start making plans. Imagine great trips to take, preferably to warm places. Whether you take them or not isn’t necessarily the point, just researching and dreaming about warm and fun places to go makes me feel happier. I have a lot of places on my “bucket list”.
10. Exercise. My favorite way to exercise is on my stationary bike while watching a movie or surfing facebook on my kindle. Other great ways to exercise in your own home is with a treadmill, with DVDs, or youtube (pilates, yoga, zumba, etc). Going to the gym would be a great idea because then you are getting a little bit of sunshine and fresh air too.
11. Try to get enough sleep. Studies have shown that 8 hours of sleep is best. Not getting enough sleep can easily affect your mood and your health. It has been linked to depression. Try to go to sleep at around the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
Title photo by luigi alesi at flickr.com